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    Chief National Guard Bureau tours Florida Guard facilities, reviews capabilities and plans for growth

    Chief National Guard Bureau tours Florida Guard facilities, reviews capabilities and plans for growth

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Fleischmann | Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, presents a challenge coin...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Fleischmann 

    Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Yesterday Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, toured Florida National Guard facilities in Jacksonville and Camp Blanding. While his visit was focused on viewing FLNG capabilities and infrastructure, he also made time to recognize the efforts of select Soldiers and Airmen within its ranks.

    Along with Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, Director, Army National Guard, Hokanson first landed at the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville, where more than 1,000 Airmen currently support the Florida Air National Guard’s F-15 warfighter mission. Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Brig. Gen. Michael Valle and the wing commander, Col. Matthew French gave Hokanson an overview on the wing and other Air Guard unit missions and capabilities, as well as their future objectives.

    As one of the eight states with space missions, the FLNG has been heavily advocating for its Airmen to become part of the Space Force framework. Preparing for this role has taken on an integral part in Air Guard training.

    “We want to continue to grow our state mission set,” said Valle. “Hopefully we will get a Space National Guard. We do have the 114th Space Control Squadron out of Patrick Air Force Base. We hope to grow that into other mission sets within the Space Force.”

    As Congress determines the possibility of a Space Force reserve component, the FLANG is focused on growth and development. Last October the U.S. Air Force awarded the 125th Fighter Wing with new F-35 fighter jets to replace its aging F-15Cs, which is schedule to take place in fall of 2024. The wing’s location in Jacksonville offers ideal proximity to the other F-35 hubs located throughout the southeast region, as well as to the F-35 flight school at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

    “Here we are uniquely postured for the future in F-35s,” said French, who explained that the next piece of preparation is creating high-end, full mission simulators to help test and prepare pilots for these new F-35 missions. “As you take a look at air and space superiority for the future ... we have to step up our training.”

    Meanwhile, Hokanson’s wife Kelly joined Beth Eifert, wife of The Adjutant General of Florida, Maj. Gen. James O. Eifert, for a tour of historic St. Francis Barracks and a discussion on Florida’s Family Readiness Programs. Like Beth, Kelly has worked tirelessly for fellow spouses as a Family Readiness Group leader for decades and is always looking for ways to better support Guardsmen and their families who sacrifice on a daily basis.

    Currently there’s 1,900 Soldiers and Airmen on orders supporting a wide range of COVID-19 response efforts. They help with testing, mobile testing, vaccinations and even coordinate equipment and supplies at the State Logistics Readiness Center. Meanwhile, nearly the same amount of Soldiers and Airmen are expected to deploy overseas within the next year.

    In short, the FLNG continues to answer the call of both state and nation, even simultaneously. To keep the force trained and ready, the FLNG relies heavily upon the capabilities of Camp Blanding Joint Training Center near Starke, Florida, which was the next stop on Hokanson’s visit.

    Since WWII, CBJTC has served as a pre-mobilization station and collective training side for Army units and government agencies alike, and offers even more potential for growth and higher level capabilities.

    “Camp Blanding is key to training readiness for the Florida Army National Guard,” said Brig. Gen. John Haas, Assistant Adjutant General for Army. “From an Army perspective, what we need Camp Blanding to be is a level II training installation that can support up to a brigade-size element for training.”

    Eifert provided an aerial overview of CBJTC to Hokanson as they flew in a UH-60 Blackhawk. Hokanson then toured a few of CBJTC’s most successful areas, which included the Regional Training Institute where he spoke live to future NCOs enrolled in the virtual Basic Leadership Course.

    While at post headquarters, Eifert briefed Hokanson on future plans that will improve FLNG response efforts across the state. One such effort includes construction of a logistical staging area and robust Guard presence in Homestead, which will enable Guardsmen to immediately respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters that take place in the south Florida region. Eifert said these and other similar changes to the force structure must take place in order to keep up with the significant growth states like Florida.

    “We’re really grateful to have General Hokanson visiting us this week,” said Eifert. “It’s a great opportunity for Florida to showcase our facilities and our capabilities and our Soldiers and Airmen so that (NGB) gets a feel for the good things that are going on down here and keeps us in mind as it comes time to make decisions about future force structure and facility improvements.”



    Date Taken: 04.14.2021
    Date Posted: 04.15.2021 16:13
    Story ID: 393973
    Location: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US 

    Web Views: 138
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